Sunday, February 6, 2011

Santiago, waste watchdog eye chemicals in soap

SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago found a strong ally in a local waste- and-pollution watchdog in thoroughly looking into the antimicrobial chemicals used in soaps and a wide range of consumer products

EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting consumer awareness and vigilance against toxic chemicals, expressed its support behind Senate Resolution 327, introduced by Santiago, which calls for “an inquiry in aid of legislation” on the safety of products containing antimicrobial compounds triclosan and triclocarban.

Roy Alvarez, president of EcoWaste, appealed to members of the Senate to act with dispatch on Santiago’s proposal in light of new evidences showing that the use of pesticides and biocides, such as triclosan, in consumer products leads to adverse health and environmental problems.

“While we await the Senate inquiry, we remind consumers to get informed, read the product labels, take precaution and shop with utmost care,” he said.

EcoWaste Coalition noted that public interest groups in the US, led by Beyond Pesticides and the Food and Water Watch, have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban triclosan to protect the consumers, workers and the ecosystems.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antimicrobial chemicals added to personal and household products to prevent the growth of bacteria, viri, fungi and mildew, and also to deodorize.

These antibacterial and antifungal agents are found in body and hand soaps, deodorants, detergents, fabric softeners, toothpastes and other products, such as fabrics, facial tissues, kitchenware, medical devices, plastics and toys.

A market survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol found dozens of products containing either triclosan, triclocarban or trichlorocarbanilide, as written in the labels, that are being sold in drug stores, supermarkets and specialty discount shops.

To justify the proposed Senate inquiry, Sen. Santiago cited the study by Arizona State University professor Rolf Halden and his team of researchers showing that “triclosan and triclocarban first aggregate in wastewater sludge and are transferred to the soil and natural water environments where they were observed to persist for months or years.”

The same study showed that “the accumulation of these antimicrobials in the environment is exerting selective pressure on microorganisms exposed to them, thereby increasing the likelihood that a superbug, resistant to the very antimicrobials developed to kill them, will emerge—with potentially dire consequences for human health.”

Another study by researchers at the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety found that the “widespread use of triclosan may represent a potential public health risk in regard to development of concomitant resistance to clinically important antimicrobials,” reported the EcoWaste Coalition.

Also, the “National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that 75 of Americans have triclosan in their bodies and its levels are said to be increasing, noted the coalition.

Across the globe, countries, including Canada, Japan and the 27-country European Union, have adopted policies to restrict human exposure to triclosan, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.


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